Cancelled Comics Commentary for 2002

January 2002

No data to be found here.

February 2002

Captain America Volume 3 #50 (Marvel): After what's happened in the past two years, what with the abominable Marvel Knights series, this is something very miserable for me to have to discuss. Namely, the cancellation of this volume, which was very good when it was going, and was then sacrificed for political correctness.

When the MK series came around, I just can't begin to tell how astounded I was when I realized that it was doing the exact opposite of what the Living Legend stands for, namely, implying that the United States is to blame for its own victimization in terrorist attacks of the kind that took place during 9-11, not to mention anti-Americanism, I was just simply stunned. And with the inclusion of a very repulsive dialogue between Steve and a German punkette on a plane to Germany, where, they actually go so far as to compare the bombing of Dresden to the attack on the World Trade Center, I was simply driven away from that now unreadable dud.

To turn to this currently cancelled series, when Mark Waid did the writing during the first year or so, it worked very well, and Cap's relationship with old gal pal Sharon Carter, alias Agent 13, was done very well. But then, TPTB decided to interfere, and so, Waid left, with Dan Jurgens taking over, and sadly, his work didn't manage to stir up enough readership to keep it going.

When 9-11 occured, you'd think that Marvel could've had a golden opportunity to make the victimized American citizen cheer by writing Captain America some stories in which he could've dealt with the menace of terrorism in tour de force style. Instead, they threw it away with a shockingly lugubrious and insulting book in which just about everything Cap stands for and is like was insulted and humiliated in unbelievably shameless fashion, driving away fans and bringing down the sales in the process, and worst of all, to say the least, insulting a generation of Americans and other people around the globe whose lives were destroyed by modern-day terrorism. How low could they possibly go?

Fortunately, that appears to have changed for the better, with the new Captain America & the Falcon series soon to debut, written by Christopher Priest, and which will hopefully grant him the proper freedom to write Cap and Falcon both true to form. It's a revival of the casting idea that came up in the 1970's, when Falcon was a co-star in Cap's book, an idea that was surely inspired by the teaming up of Green Lantern and Green Arrow when Dennis O'Neil was writing that book. I certainly hope it works out for the better, since, after the Marvel Knights abomination, Cap is sorely in need of a patriotic tune-up. Even more luckily, the series has been restored as of this writing to the regular Marvel line, and better still, old girlfriend Diamondback may be back!

The Defenders #12 volume 2 (Marvel): Frankly, I don't think TPTB gave this attempted revival of the Bronze Age title led by Doctor Strange much of a chance to begin with, but then again, there's a lot of things they don't give much of a chance these days.

The series first began in 1972, and ran quite a while, featuring a team consisting mainly of Doctor Strange, who would also summon up such characters as the Silver Surfer, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Black Panther, Valkyrie, Hellcat, Jack Noriss, Gargoyle, Nighthawk, and even, get this, the Elf With a Gun! It was created by such stalwarts as Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema, and featured this loose-knit team of misfits (well, with the Hulk in on the action, who says they can't be?) battling mainly occult and magic-related threats to the universe, and it even served to finish up a few unresolved plotlines from other books that went unfinished at the time (one most notable example was the erstwhile Omega the Unknown, who lasted for about three years in the MCU, and remains as obscure as his own title).

Erik Larsen and Kurt Busiek, both talented writers alike, tried to restart the magic of yesteryear, and with Valkyrie on board again, what more could you ask for? But alas, it just didn't work, and thanks to the management of then, that's probably but one reason why it didn't get the attention it deserved, and the adventure themes upon which it was based were largely squandered at the time.

Then again, that's pretty much what they're doing even now.

March 2002

The Brotherhood #9 (Marvel): Well hereís one X-related series I most definitely wonít be missing, this one about Ė get this Ė an extremist terrorist gang of mutants, which is almost similar to the PLO and the Hamas. It came out around the time of 9-11, and that was one of the reasons it got cancelled, and the best thing I can say about it is: good riddance.

Iím sorry to say, but the concept of focusing on the criminals as the stars of the show is a fragile one at best, and in this politically correct age of ours, thereís a highly probable chance itíll end up being geared to focus on the evil in a sympathetic light, as was tragically done in the Marvel Knights series of Captain America. And it certainly wasnít any better in this dud, which is now thankfully down the drain.

Some risks just shouldnít be taken, and if the House of Bad Ideas hadnít put this in the can as soon as they did, it could have become a millstone around their necks.

April 2002

No data for this month either.

May 2002

Fathom #14 (Image/Top Cow): this series owned by the late artist/writer Michael Turner himself had to stop publication at the time because he'd been diagnosed with cancer, which unfortunately cost him his life 4 years afterwards.

The premise was about a young girl found by naval officials at sea who could only recall that name was Aspen, and was apparently part of a race of aquatic humanoids called the Blue who could influence water molecules, explaining in part why she enjoyed swimming in the ocean so often. During the time it was being published, there was even one story that co-starred Lara Croft and Sara Pezzini of Tomb Raider and Witchblade, respectively, since both heroines were also being published by Top Cow at the time (as can probably be expected, this particular story, called Resurrection of Taras, may not be available in trades due to copyright problems). It was revived eventually, with Turner doing at least one more story, and other writers and artists taking over after he passed on.

As can be expected from a book with an artist as talented as Turner was, Aspen was quite a hottie, and I wish I could say I appreciate this concept more than I do, but Turner's willingness to draw the covers for Identity Crisis in 2004 have sabotaged my ability to fully admire it. That's why I don't see myself in a rush to buy anything connected to Fathom in the near future.

June 2002

The Authority #29 (DC/Wildstorm): Well now, let me step forward and surprise anyone who's a fan of this series by just saying that I won't be missing it, and couldn't care less that this volume was put to rest. Here's why.

The series, such as it was, was about a group of would-be superheroes who took "fighting evil" in unorthodox manners, yet they themselves, it appears, were just as bad as their own enemies. In one storyline, they even massacred an entire nation because they didn't agree with its policies and such.

Given the level of nihilism and other questionable details here, which even went so far as to come up with a idea that insulted Superman and Batman,  it doesn't surprise me that DC preferred that this be cancelled, especially after 9-11, and one issue was posponed because of a scenario in it that looked very much like the team was sifting through the rubble of a building wreck.

I suppose there are some people to whom this kind of mess appeals to, but I'm not one of them. Most of the time, it seems that series like this one from Wildstorm only exist as political tools for the writers, which even included Frank Miller of Daredevil fame, to platform upon.

And if that's how it's going to be, then I don't have any business with duds like these.

Orion #25 (DC): I think this character was one of Jack Kirby's New Gods, a very interesting one too at that, since he's the son of Darkseid, and, like his warlord father, the ruler of Apokolips, he too first appeared back in 1971. But the difference is that he was raised under the idealistics of truth and justice by the gods of New Genesis, and while he does have to work hard to control a violent nature and the urge for battle that he was also born with, he's been loyal to the adoptive people he was raised by and is willing to die to defend the cause of good. And Orion's was said to be one of the best books of the dawn of the 21st century. Mainly because the talented Walt Simonson, writer and penciler on this series, was able to sidestep at least one crossover, that being Our Worlds at War...but sadly not the other, that being Joker: Last Laugh. (And no, I really don't want to think who it could be who got jokerized there. What's the use?)

Orion was a title that most definately deserved better than it got, but good editorial with good promotion, sadly, is just so hard to find. Fantasy series of this kind are some of the grandest concepts around, and like the rest of the New Gods, Orion too is one of King Kirby's best creations.

July 2002

The Authority #29 vol. 1 (Wildstorm/DC): oh gee, this is something I sure wouldn't miss if it had stopped at this point. Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch and spinning partly out of Stormwatch, it told of a superhero team that's even willing to use deadly force to get the job done. But it was so plagued by annoying leftist politics, no matter how subtle, especially when Mark Millar took up the writing chores, that avoiding it would make for a much better option. Honestly, I am not amused by its supposed edginess, and how the writers thought they were being clever by featuring two gay protagonists named Apollo and Midnighter - apparently a homosexual variation on Superman and Batman - which was little more than sensationalism. The same goes for the vicious violence that overran its storyboards. Interestingly enough, it actually got into problems with DC's concerns that it would draw negative controversy over Apollo and Midnighter's same-sex affair with each other, and issue #23, which was delayed due to the terrorist attacks on 9-11. There was even a planned special subtitled Widescreen that got canned altogether because of the violence in the story. Today of course, in the era since Dan DiDio took over, it's more likely those stories would be greenlighted within an instant.

The Authority would be revived about a year after this volume ended, and not much more successfully.

Gen13 #77 (DC/Wildstorm): The kind of title that ends just as itís beginning to receive some improvements in writing, even though it was relaunched intentionally the following month. Why do they have to do things like that?

Gen13, which first began as GenX in 1993 and then had its title changed because Marvel sued to prevent Wildstorm, then under the Image umbrella, from using a title similar in some ways to their own Generation X, was about five teenagers, Caitlin Fairchild, Burnout, Freefall, Grunge, Rainmaker, whoíd been subjects of a superhuman power experiment by shady government outlets, and fled with the father of Burnout, also superpowered, to New York and later Califonia as fugitives (In 1999, there was a made-for-video cartoon produced by Paramount based on it). The series wavered between having the characters wear superhero costumes or just plainclothes, between such angles as adventure, whether in time or space, and broad sexual farce, and while they were always appealing characters, and the series had some great artwork, for something that was started in part by J. Scott Campbell, its main problem was that it had considerable difficulty in finding a suitable direction, whether superhero or serious young adult dramatics.

They also put in some pretty tacky things, like writing that Rainmaker was bi-sexual, something that had been implied very early in the series, and I suppose the problem regarding Grunge was that his name, which was meant to be a takeoff on a funny slang from rock groups in the 1970ís, apparently was a joke that few managed to get.

In the last issue of this volume, they seemingly killed off Ė what was that Ė four out of five of the characters? And they did it leaving only Caitlin surviving.

I do like the characters here, and I think itís a shame that they didnít do a better job than they couldíve. But it does look like, thankfully, theyíre not going to just kill them off forever, and I hope that in time, theyíll find a better direction for them.

I guess maybe that's why I'd like to post here some ideas that I once had and wrote to somebody into comics, for anyone's amusement, of what I'd like to do to improve Gen13:

I know a book that can be improved, is worth saving, or thatís got potential to it, and in my opinion, Gen 13 is a title with potential worth making some improvements in. This, after all, is a comic book that was very popular when it first came out in 1995, but whose popularity has slumped in the past year or two, courtesy of hack writers such as Scott Lobdell, who really got on my nerves this year. But, as Iím pleased to report for anyone whoís interested, itís starting to get better, thanks to the current writers led by Adam Warren.

And if it needs any more improvements, then here are some ideas I once mentioned [to someone else once]:

1] Caitlin Fairchild could enroll in college, and given that she's the kind of sexy babe who can send all guys hearts aflutter, this could lead to some very funny situations of where she'd put all her male co-eds in a trance. And she could hook up with and become the protector of any boys whoíre being harrassed by bullies, giving the bullies a good flattening whenever they try to stand in her way.
2] Have all three of the Gen girls be supermodels, which could lead to investigating all sorts of crooked activities behind the scenes in the modeling world, and to work undercover in such a profession as well. It's partially Miss Congeniality that gave me that idea.
3] And Grunge could certainly become a store clerk, although, I think a 7-Eleven would be the most fitting place for him to work.
4] And, maybe they should all move down to a beach house in Malibu, since that'd be more ideal place for GenXers like them to live. And then have them throw parties in their spare time.
5] And whether the writers want to write Gen 13 as action adventure or as a look at how youngsters in America feel, they should make it more clear, ditto whether they have a mentor figure and costumes.
6] And yes, they should have some serious recurring enemies who can prove a challenge to them anytime.
7] But perhaps most importantly of all, they should have a few causes for fighting: like, should Caitlinís be her dad, who I think had undergone a GenActive experiment himself too? I think that could work very well, ditto for Burnout.
8] Have Caitlin wear some more heavy eye makeup. Sometimes it seems to me as if most comic book women, no matter how well made up they are, donít seem to be wearing any eye makeup, which could really make them look droolingly sexy. Ditto for Rainmaker and Freefall.

If the publishers at Wildstorm were to take these suggestions, then I think that they could make things better all over again for the Gen team.

If these ideas of mine were to be accepted, then who knows, maybe Gen13 could get some real charm to it. And Caitlin for one could sure use it.

Superboy #100 (DC): Itís amazing as to how some ďsecond-tierĒ titles like this one make it to the 100th issue, but while itís a pity to see Kon-Elís own series go, at least it got as far as that.

Kon-El, the teen version of the Man of Steel in todayís DCU, first appeared in 1993 as the result of a cloning experiment conducted illegally by the scientist Paul Westfield, who attempted to clone Superman following his ďdeathĒ at the hands of Doomsday. He wasnít an actual clone, mind you, since, heíd actually been cloned from human DNA mixed with some of the Man of Steelís. He later spent time in Hawaii, and ended up getting his own solo book pretty quickly the year after his debut.

And he made a pretty good addition to the Super-family, but, alas, DC let his book lose ground, and it all came down.

For now, Superboy can certainly be seen in the new volume of Teen Titans written by Geoff Johns. And he certainly does well there.

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #16 (Marvel): An imitation (of sorts) of the popular semi-anthology series starring Spider-Man alongside other notable characters in various adventures in the MCU from the Bronze Age, this was apparently extinguished deliberately, to make way for other Ultimate titles instead.

Itís really odd, but most of the characters here who got the Ultimate treatment, including Iron Man, the Hulk, and even the Punisher, didnít look exactly like what came afterwards based on them in this spinoff universe whose foundation is questionable, and whose published series are otherwise appealing to and being read only by longtime fans. And to be quite honest, with the way that such titles as Ultimate X-Men and even Ultimate Spider-Man wallow in excess, certainly the one with the X-Men, I canít say that I can see much of anything great in this line, if at all. Suffice it to say that itís so padded out in its story arcs, a very big problem lately with Marvel, that as a result, that too reduces its impact storywise, and makes it all the more harder for me, for one, to credit Brian Michael Bendis (who noticably does not seem to deal with any of Marvelís mainstream series, just Marvel Knights and Ultimate).

While I donít begrudge anybody whoís a fan of the Ultimate line, Iím not sorry to see this series go, and frankly, I wonít be even when others bite the dust as well.

August 2002

X-Force #129 (Marvel): This actually ended a year earlier, with issue #115 and some of the older cast(cast members like Domino survived). The idea here was to make room for a new concept, a satirical series that could have a funner edge to it, starring a cast of mutants who, in contrast to the viewpoint used in past years, were celebrities and such, accepted by the public at large, and which even added a funny little mascot named Doop to the mix.

Well you know, in regards to the premise, that part I like. However, as envisioned by Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, the premiere issue for the characters used in this series, at least, was a very tacky affair. I just hated to have to see that bloody skewering that took place in here. Not that the artwork itself was a problem, mind you; I realize it's all part of the satire, but that gore, well, is this really what the X-books are being published for? And with Allred doing the chores here, it's like I'm seeing all-red!

As for the series that came before all this, let me point out that it wasn't all that bad, but, it was still just riding the coattails of the two main X-books. Only a few of the characters here appealed to me, and hopefully, those'll be the ones to have survived till now, even if they're not in the spolight at present.

September 2002

Cable #107 (Marvel): Finally, a series that for the most part was redundant, has come to a most belated end. Well, almost. I'll explain soon enough.

When Nathan Summers first appeared in 1988, in New Mutants, IIRC, he was admittedly more interesting then. But alas, not only did this future born son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor come saddled with a labrithyne background, he also had no personality to speak of, nor any really good plots or adventures to compensate for that. What was the Askni'son, exactly? The tribe that raised him? I can't figure that part out. Nor can figure out what future wars he took part in, or what his purpose in our timeline is exactly either. Is it to deal with the crook who preceded the enemies he met in the future or is just modern-day crooks? No luck in sorting that part out either. And why is he being pursued by the law, if he is? You tell me.

Oh well, I guess you can't expect much when it comes to a character who was created by committee, and/or by the hack writer and artist who still manages to get work here and there, Rob Liefeld. Frankly, as of today, I just can't be sure which was worse, his scripting or his artwork. And I guess the best answer is both.

And yet, he still managed to survive as a series lead, in Soldier X, which will be dealt with soon enough on the files. Isn't that amazing how they just continue with the tradition of cancelling one for another?

Deadpool #69 (Marvel): I know this series had its fans, and I don't begrudge them for that, but personally, I didn't think much of it myself. The would-be sense of humor was near offensive, such as where it featured a pair of schoolgirls as killers, and Wade Wilson, who I think was intro'd in X-Force, never struck me as very appealing. A character whose facial features were damaged so badly he wears a mask, he specialized in being an assassin(!), and that's what really turned this series into a train wreck for the most part.

Oh sure, the very talented Gail Simone made it more readable when she took it over. But unfortunately, Deadpool's profession sticks out like a sore thumb, and it weighed in heavily against him as a character. And the humor that took place in the series when it first began was no help either.

For the record, why is it that now, they're writing him together with the aforementioned Cable in a new series, called Deadpool and Cable? Beats me, but apparently, there's still a market out there for both of them, so I guess they figured they could both survive if put together as partners in crimefighting in the same book.

October 2002

Captain Marvel #35 Volume 2 (Marvel): Ended and relaunched as part of a ludicrous marathon between writer Peter David and the now ousted COO of Marvel, Bill Jemas, attempting to prove himself a writer with a lugubrious item he called Marville, which was written by him as a lark.

That was, to say the obvious, one of the most insulting things that they could've done when Jemas was trying to run Marvel as more a controversy machine than a house of entertainment. They even said that the loser would let himself be dunked in a bucket of water at a convention for comics, but of course, that never happened. However, it is possible to say that that little notion of theirs on how to get people to buy CM - namely, the fans who were already reading it - may have damaged the book artistically to a certain degree.

Not that I admittedly thought much of it when I looked it over a few years ago, aside from the fact that it apparently wasn't for younger readers, other than seeing how it dealt more in depth with Rick and Marlo Jones' relationship (hint, hint), but in any event, I got bored of it soon afterwards (sorry, CM fans), and lost interest. All I can say now is this: bring back Photon of the Avengers in the role of Captain Marvel, please!

And as for Marville, well, that's something that'll have to be dealt with in the next installment on cancelled comics (see 2003), ditto the cancellation of the CM volume that followed this one (see 2004).

Deadman #9 (DC): The title character first appeared in 1967 in Strange Adventures #205, and like his name, yes, he was dead, and began his career after his own murder. Originally circus acrobat Boston Brand, who just so happened to use the name Deadman as part of his act, he was shot by a sniper and fell dead to the earth. The supernatural entity called Rama Kushna took interest in his plight and kept his spirit alive until he could find his killer, who had a hook in place of the hand, vaguely similar to the one-armed murderer who had put Fugitive star Richard Kimble's wife to death in that classic 1963-67 TV series. While he was invisible, intangible and inaudible in spirit form, Deadman could also possess the bodies of people on earth, which led to the part that he enjoyed the most - incriminating, implicating and exposing criminals in acts of crime so they could be captured more easily.

Deadman eventually found the culprit who'd done him in, but it turned out the murderer's act against him was only the beginning - he had done the deed as a means of proving himself to the League of Assassins, his green light to joining the gang. But before he could get his personal revenge against his murderer, wouldn't you know it, the gang's leaders did in the assassin themselves. That certainly was a surprise, but a disappointment for Brand. Nevertheless, Kushna felt that he had done well as a superhero in the afterlife, and so he made sure that Brand would be able to continue his career as Deadman.

So anyway, yeah, he's been able to do just that, but, other than that, Boston Brand has never been a solid seller, despite having had this and an older title that were published back in the late 1980's, though he had turned up in more than a few places of interest, perhaps even the Spectre, which was lucky to have sold better than Deadman's title did, when John Ostrander was helming the book back in the 1990's. The best places where Brand fared were in miniseries, but as an ongoing title, unfortunately, he had little luck.

It's kind of a pity, since the premise is an intriguing one, and the character's design does look pretty cool. Still, one thing that can certainly be said is that Deadman, like the Spectre, has been far more successful than their Shadow Age occult counterpart, the Phantom Stranger, who's only had one real series, published during the Bronze Age.

Impulse #89 (DC): So comes to an end the title starring the little speedster who could, Bart Allen, the grandson of the legendary Barry Allen, the second Flash in the DCU, and cousin of now Flash Wally West.

When Bart first debuted in 1994, having come into existance courtesy of Zero Hour, as it appears, Mark Waidís brainchild, whom he came up with as the teen speedster of the new era, was a sleeper success, and was likewise so when his own solo book came out the year afterwards, just like Superboyís book. Isnít that amazing how they can be so successful within just a short amount of time!

He was the only speedster during the 1990ís who maintained a secret ID (hey, heís a teenager!), and having been born in the future with a troublesome disease that caused him to age too fast, he initially had to spend most of his time in a virtual reality machine, under the care of his grandmother and widow of Barryís, Iris West Allen, after his parents had been murdered by government agents. After the machine broke, that was when she decided to return to the present with Bart in tow, having nothing else to live for in the 30th century in which she was born, where Wally, now the Flash, figured out how to cure the disease and bring Bartís development down to a normal rate. With that, Bart then was taken into the custody of veteran speedster Max Mercury, who resided in the fictional city of Manchester in Alabama, with whom he continued to live and go to school in the area, where he aquired a nice ensemble supporting cast of friends for himself, including Helen Claiborne and Carol Bucklen, and even had a nigh-archvillain of his own in a clone of his called Inertia. After Max was abducted by the archnemesis of the first Flash, Jay Garrick, the Rival, he went to live with Jay and his wife Joan back in Keystone City, while teaming up with the formerly known as Young Justice and now the new roster of the Teen Titans.

The series sometimes tended to be more tongue-in-cheek in its approach to storytelling than the regular Flash was, since Bart is the kind of character who tends to get distracted though he does his best not to when it comes to crimefighting. And for awhile, with writers like Waid and even William Messner-Loebs helming the book, it worked out very well, but in the end, DC pretty much let down on this title, and let it end up slumping enough in both artistic quality and sales so that it got cancelled.

And now, with the new volume of Teen Titans having been launched to continue from where Young Justice ended, Bartís pretty much taken up the codename his cousin Wally held when he was his age, Kid Flash. Iím going to really miss the time when he was called Impulse, a name that actually seemed to suit him quite well, but, as I can tell, the change having been done now is mostly part of his own characterís development, and I got to give them credit for that.

Marvel Knights Volume 2 #6 (Marvel): Itís not so much the cancellation that bothers me here as it is the starting over again from number one on the issue. Actually, maybe itís the fact that Chuck Dixon had nothing to do with this so-called revival that bugs me. In any event, as far as Iím concerned, the MK line ended with Dixon, and this short-lived sucker certainly doesnít help matters.

Suicide Squad #12 volume 2 (DC): Despite having the esteemed writer/artist Keith Giffen helming this attempt to revive the 1987-92 series, this just didn't take off. Maybe the error made here - and this was just in the first issue - was in killing off Big Sir, the former mental patient who first appeared towards the end of the Flash's first volume who'd been exploited by the Rogues' in an attempt to kill him while he was on trial for the killing of Professor Zoom, but everthing was luckily set right, and after being cured of his mental illness by Solovar from Gorilla City, Dufus Ratchet decided to reform and become a do-gooder instead. Plus, even the Clock King, Multi-Man and the Cluemaster were done in during the premiere story, the latter being the father of Stephanie "Spoiler" Brown, the girlfriend of third Robin Timothy Drake, who subsequently substituted for him in the career he took over for when his predecessor, Jason Todd, was killed off in 1989's Bat-story, A Death in the Family.

I've been wondering more recently if Geoff Johns is trying to help put together a new Squad featuring Trickster, Heatwave and Pied Piper, but that's still "to be announced". So we can only see what we shall see. But without Amanda Waller, one of the directors of the previous Squad and later part of Lex Luthor's cabinet when he was president in the DCU, around to lead it, I doubt it'd work out as well.

November-December 2002

Nope, no data to be found for these two months. Oh well.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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